Playing county cricket has helped me grow - Ojha
Pragyan Ojha, the India left-arm spinner, has said the experience he got playing county cricket in England has helped him adjust to his new status as the senior spinner in India's Test line-up. Ojha has played 11 Tests in total but has not played one since November last year. With both Harbhajan Singh and Amit Mishra dropped for the first Test against West Indies, he finds himself playing alongside debutant R Ashwin.
"I took it in a positive way," Ojha said of suddenly being given the responsibility of leading India's spin attack. "I spoke to seniors like Anil [Kumble], Harbhajan, Rahul [Dravid] and [VVS] Laxman when I was out of the team and they all advised me to go and play county cricket. When you play there, you are given a lot of responsibility and they expect you to win games for them. That helps you grow as a cricketer. I also played the Irani Trophy where I tried some variations."
Ojha took 24 wickets at an average of 12.95 for Surrey in the County Championship in England over the summer, and marked his return to the India team with figures of 3 for 58 on the first day on a flat Feroz Shah Kotla pitch. He said the wicket was slow and unhelpful for bowlers, and the only way to find success was to stick to your lines.
"The wicket wasn't doing much and it was about sticking to one line, getting the basics right and just testing the patience of the batsmen." He said he had particularly enjoyed his dismissal of Kraigg Brathwaite because he had beaten him in the flight and had him stumped.
Though Ojha kept West Indies in check with his strikes, Shivnarine Chanderpaul's unbeaten century gave West Indies a base from which they can look to push on to a big total on the second day. Ojha said it was a challenge bowling to Chanderpaul but he did think he had him in trouble a couple of times on the sweep shot.
"Chanderpaul is one of the legends of the game and he has played very well here. The amount of experience he has is amazing. I really enjoyed bowling against him and, while he was batting, there were a couple of half-chances while he was sweeping when the ball fell short of square leg. It is a great battle bowling to a legend and hopefully I will get him out."